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Balkwill’s OT winner lifts Blind River over Espanola

ESPANOLA, Ont. – A Nathan Balkwill extra man marker, 33 seconds into overtime, was the difference as the Blind River Beavers prevailed 5-4 in a back and forth Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair Friday at the Regional Recreation Complex.

Each side clicked twice in the opening 20 minutes with Alex Tingay getting his first league tally for the Beavers while Caleb Serre collected the 71st of his career in his time with Blind River.

Answering for Espanola in the first were Bradley Brunet and Dylan Labelle.

Moving on to the middle stanza, the Express took the lead at 2:32 as Nelson Manguereka picked up his initial NOJHL goal.

Countering, the visitors levelled the proceedings before the second was complete thanks to another from Serre, who notched No. 72 in league play.

Moving on to the third, the clubs traded tallies just nine seconds apart with Joel Martin’s first put Blind River into the lead before Espanola captain Lukas Lyszyk countered moments later to knot the affair at 4-4 and help send it to OT.

In the extra session, the Beavers picked up an early power play and made quick work while skating four on three.

After controlling the draw, the guests got it back to Jake Behnen at the point who put a pass into the right faceoff circle where a waiting Blackwill one-timed a blast high over Joel Rainville in the Espanola net to end it.

Bryan Clahassey had an impressive first game in the league by dishing out three assists for Blind River.

Both goalkeepers were busy on the night in a game that saw the Express hold a 43-42 edge on shots with Wyatt Courchaine picking up the win while Rainville’s efforts help the home side earn a point in defeat.